Bringing back the happy moments of childhood, a new book by artist-illustrator Wendy Piersall, “Coloring Animal Mandalas,” just published by Ulysses Press, invites grownups to open a box of pencils, and relive the long gone, but never forgotten bliss of coloring blank black outlines on book pages.The intricate design, which places dragons, foxes, butterflies, lions, tigers, swans, snakes, peacocks, seahorses and even unicorns in beautifully rounded mandalas (from the Sanskrit word for “circle”) might be too complex and meticulous for children, but is definitely a great creative and stress-relieving exercise for adults.
Mandalas of various patterns have been used for meditation and emotional healing for thousands of years, and as you transform the detailed shapes in this book into stunning works of art, you find yourself relaxing, focused, reaching a higher state of mindfulness and simply enjoying yourself.
Wendy Piersall is a lifelong artist who has been drawing mandala coloring pages since 2009. Here’s what she had to say on the subject in a short Q&A session:
1. What are mandalas?
Mandalas are circle drawings that have history in ancient Buddhism and today are used in art therapy, meditation and as beautiful decorative art. Monks used to take days to make mandala designs out of colored sand, then sweep the sand into the water to teach the impermanence of life.
2. Why animal mandalas?
I first drew animal mandalas when my oldest daughter was going through a phase of a deep love of animals. At the time, she wanted to become a marine biologist and I was looking for inspiration of mandalas to draw for my kid's activities websites. Years later, my editor from Ulysses Press found them and approached me to do a whole book of animal mandalas. I jumped at the chance!
3. How can adults find coloring relaxing?
I find coloring relaxing for several reasons. Coloring was a favorite activity as a child, so it's easy to tap into the warmth and happiness of those memories when coloring. My mother has Alzheimer's, and the nursing home where she lives also does coloring activities with their residents because it is calming, easy, and enjoyable. Mostly, though, I find it extremely meditative to both draw and color mandalas. You really have to clear your mind to color them and simply pay attention to the lines and colors. It makes you focus your thoughts away from daily life and stress and on the simple process of coloring.
4. Is illustration mandalas as relaxing as the process of coloring them in?
As I mentioned before, yes, though sometimes I get stuck on the creative process when my perfectionism kicks in. When that happens, I walk away for a while or work on a different drawing. Just like with life, if you overthink things, it's best to take a break and approach drawing with a fresh perspective.
5. How often do you color?
These days I've been coloring almost daily! In some ways, it's a nice break from drawing, because I get to enjoy the art rather than work on creating it. It also feeds my creativity, because I'm starting to get new ideas for more coloring pages to draw in the future. I have to be proactive against getting burned out, so coloring is the perfect way to stay creative without having to crank out work on paying gigs.
“Coloring Animal Mandalas” by Wendy Piersall is available on www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com, and other book retailers.